Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Monkey and Sun Wukong

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797-1861)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1840
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 36.6 x 12.5 cm (14 7/16 x 4 15/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, battle, Eastern zodiac, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, monkey, portrait, ukiyo-e, wine, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

The zodiac sign of the monkey is represented by the Chinese monkey king Sun Wukong (Japanese, Son Gokv), one of the three followers of the Buddhist monk Yuan Zhuang in the Chinese novel, Journey to the West or Monkey (Chinese, Xiyou ji; Japanese, Saiyvki). The monk and his companions traveled to India in 629 to collect and study the sacred texts of Buddhism. Here the monkey transforms his fur into an army to battle his enemy the pig, who later becomes his closest companion on the pilgrimage. This print is from the first edition of the series. The fine printing combines graded color in a dynamic, swirling composition of exceptional artistry.

Published References
  • Robert T. Singer. The Life of Animals in Japanese Art. Exh. cat. Princeton, New Jersey. p 52, fig 10I.
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 88, pp. 214-5, 232-33.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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